Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana gave President Rodrigo R. Duterte a rating of “90 percent” in terms of his administration’s accomplishments in preserving peace and security in the country.
“As far as (the) DND is concerned, ang rating ni Presidente ay 90 percent dahil nadagdagan niya ‘yung equipment ng ating mga sundalo at maganda yung direktiba niya sa amin na puksain ‘yung insurgency (the President’s rating is 90 percent because he managed to acquire and procure additional equipment for our soldiers and his directive to us to totally neutralize (local communist) insurgency is also good),” he said during the pre-State of the Nation Address (SONA) forum of the Security, Justice, and Peace Cluster on Wednesday.
Guided by the President’s order to defend what rightfully belongs to the country without going to war, Lorenzana also said they have consistently asserted the Philippines’ sovereignty and sovereign rights.
“Patuloy ang pagpapaunlad ng imprastraktura sa Kalayaan at Mavulis Islands. Pinaigting natin ang pagpapatrolya at pagbabantay sa ating himpapawid at karagatan (Improvements in the infrastructure in Kalayaan and Mavulis Islands are ongoing even as we intensified our patrols guarding our airspace and seas). We also intensified our deterrence activities and deployed more personnel in our borders, especially in the West Philippine Sea and the Sulu-Celebes Seas,” he added.
As of last year, Lorenzana said the country has conducted 186 air and 575 maritime patrols.
“We now have more littoral monitoring stations and detachments in strategic locations to monitor vessels transiting within Philippine waters and key sea lanes of communication,” he added.
Lorenzana also cited the benefits of the country’s defense cooperation with other countries, inside and outside the region.
“Dahil sa Trilateral Cooperative Arrangement natin sa Indonesia at Malaysia, mabilis nating napababa ang mga insidente ng kidnapping-for-ransom at iba pang krimen sa karagatan ng Sulu (Due to our Trilateral Cooperative Agreement with Indonesia and Malaysia, we quickly reduced kidnapping-for-ransom incidents and other crimes in Sulu waters),” he added.
Aside from this, Lorenzana said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) also invested in climate change and disaster resilience efforts.
“More importantly, member states have committed to asserting the Asean centrality in dealing with other countries in the Indo-Asia Pacific region, especially towards the peaceful and amicable resolution of territorial disputes in accordance with international laws,” he added.
Lorenzana also cited the milestones reached by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in enhancing its capacity and capability.
This includes the upgrading of systems, doctrines, and the acquisition of capital assets and equipment.
Some of these newly acquired assets include the two newly-acquired Jose Rizal-class missile frigates, the six-newly delivered Embraer A-29B “Super Tucano” close-air support aircraft and a number of combat utility helicopters.
Lorenzana was referring to the Polish-made S-70i “Black Hawk” helicopters, of which 10 units are now in the country while the remaining five are to be delivered within the year.
“Ginagamit na natin ang mga ito sa (we are now using these equipment in) territorial defense, counter-insurgency, peacekeeping, at humanitarian assistance at disaster response operations. Though we still have a long way to go to achieve our desired level of defense posture, we can now proudly say that the AFP is definitely stronger than it was before,” he said.
Lorenzana added that he hopes that more ships and aircraft would be acquired for the military in the remaining months of the Duterte administration.
“Ngayon, siguro ang dapat pa nating magawa sa kanyang administrasyon, ay dagdagan natin ang ating mga nabiling equipment dahil kailangan natin yan lalong lalo na yung mga barko at mga eroplano, so, yun lang kasagutan ko (Now, in regards to what the administration can do more, I would want to add on to the equipment that we had already acquired especially ships and aircraft which we urgently need. That is my answer),” Lorenzana said.
Despite the July 4 crash of the Lockheed C-130 transport aircraft in Patikul, Sulu which claimed the lives of 50 military personnel and injured 46 others along with three civilians killed and four others wounded, Lorenzana said the “One Defense Team” remains committed to serving the nation and its people. (PNA)